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In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson appointed his secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to lead an expedition into the land west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis asked his friend, William Clark, to partner with him. Starting in 1804, it was a journey that took them and the other men who made up their crew two and a half years, from the onset of their trip until their return. Their original journals went into great detail about the dangers they faced – hunger, bitter winters, torrential rains, sickness, etc. The journals also detailed the joy they shared with each new discovery and their friendship with Native American tribes. From those diaries the Salisburys were able to write a true account of this first journey to the West. I have always been interested in the Lewis & Clark Expedition and lived near a part of the Mississippi River where the explorers traveled and camped. The authors have included over 150 illustrations of the trail they took, describing mountains, plains, the Indian camps and people, wildlife and rivers, as well as maps that are based on the diaries. This book is a well-rounded, accurate story of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
Three words that describe this book: Historical, Adventuresome, Interesting
You might want to pick this book up if: People who are interested in American history and the Lewis & Clark Expedition would enjoy reading this book.
We recently added “We Always Lie to Strangers” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown earlier this year at Ragtag Cinema and currently has a rating of 86% from audiences at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
A story of family, community, music, and tradition, five years in the making, set against the backdrop of Branson, Missouri, one of the biggest tourist destinations in America. At the heart of Branson’s appeal is the staged music shows that earned the town the moniker of the live music capital of the world. These shows are well known for their traditional, family style of entertainment and crowds from around the country flock to Branson for this, return to old-fashioned values.A story of family, community, music, and tradition, five years in the making, set against the backdrop of Branson, Missouri, one of the biggest tourist destinations in America. At the heart of Branson’s appeal is the staged music shows that earned the town the moniker of the live music capital of the world. These shows are well known for their traditional, family style of entertainment and crowds from around the country flock to Branson for this, return to old-fashioned values. – See more at: http://dbrl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/576335018_we_always_lie_to_strangers#sthash.7WwXG45y.dpuf An animated documentary on the life of controversial MIT professor, philosopher, linguist, anti-war activist and political firebrand Noam Chomsky. Through complex, lively conversations with Chomsky and brilliant illustrations by Gondry himself, the film reveals the life and work of the father of modern linguistics while also exploring his theories on the emergence of language. – See more at: http://dbrl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/577581018_is_the_man_who_is_tall_happy#sthash.59NCeRDk.dpuf Roger Ross Williams explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. Thanks to charismatic religious leaders and a well-financed campaign, these draconian new laws and the politicians that peddle them are winning over the Ugandan public. But these dangerous policies and the money that fuels them are coming from American’s largest megachurches. – See more at: http://dbrl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/559029018_god_loves_uganda#sthash.hmxmLNTm.dpuf Roger Ross Williams explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. Thanks to charismatic religious leaders and a well-financed campaign, these draconian new laws and the politicians that peddle them are winning over the Ugandan public. But these dangerous policies and the money that fuels them are coming from American’s largest megachurches. – See more at: http://dbrl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/559029018_god_loves_uganda#sthash.hmxmLNTm.dpuf
The Newbery Medal is awarded each year to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The Newbery Medal is to children’s literature what the Oscar is to the Academy Awards. In plain English: This award is given to the best chapter book of the year. Some popular Newbery award-winning titles include “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry and “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman.
About our Mock Newbery Program:
Throughout the fall, we are inviting youth in grades 4-8 to join us twice per month to discuss this year’s Newbery finalists. Library staff will facilitate the sessions along with Nancy Baumann, a local educator and previous Newbery committee member. This is the third year that the library has offered this unique book club opportunity and we hope that you will consider signing up.
How to get involved:
Sessions will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Columbia Public Library on the following Wednesdays: Sept. 10, Oct. 1, 15, 29, Nov. 5, 19, Dec. 3, 17. Registration begins Tuesday, September 2. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Originally published at Heavy Medal: Mock Newbery Awards.
Do you enjoy mysteries? Do you like plants? If you answer “yes” to both of these questions, then Ruth Kassinger’s “A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered That Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants” is just the book for you. Think about it – few things around us are more mysterious than plants, and Kassinger does a great job writing about them in an engaging and entertaining way. She talks about plant evolution, the history of botany and the people who propelled it forward (as well as the techniques they used). She describes her visits to universities where contemporary scientists shared their knowledge with her. And she shows the inner workings of plants: the way they breathe, propagate and survive adverse conditions (this information is arranged in three separate chapters: roots, leaves, and flowers). Kassinger even explores the world of competitive giant pumpkin growing, and she takes her readers to an annual fall festival in Maine, where pumpkin lovers turn pumpkins into competitive racing boats.
At the end of the book, the author touches on the possible benefits of the genetic engineering of food plants and the use of plants as biofuel. One of the readers described “A Garden of Marvels” this way: “I highly recommend this book to everyone – even if it means I’m no longer the only one in the room who knows the difference between collenchyma and sclerenchyma, and I lose my Look-How-Plant-Smart-I-Am edge in cocktail party small talk.”
P.S. If you like “A Garden of Marvels,” don’t miss another book by Kassinger: “Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates A Conservatory Garden.”
“Lionheart” is about King Richard the Lionheart of England and his time in the crusades. I love this author, Sharon Kay Penman, particularly her historical mystery novels, but I also fell in love with this series with the first book, “When Christ and his Saints Slept.” It can be a bit much to read these all in a row, but if you like historical fiction, her books are incredibly well-researched and I even enjoy her author’s notes where she talks about her research. I get to learn and be entertained at the same time! This book is no different from her others and brings King Richard to life, presenting him as a much more complex character than his legend.
Three words that describe this book: entertaining, historical, balanced
You might want to pick this book up if: You like well-researched historical fiction.
The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult novel that is selected by Missouri high school students. Even though this award is administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to vote on the actual winner. This year’s finalists were announced last December and voting will take place in March 2015.
This year’s nominees include several dystopian books such as “Starters” by Lissa Price and “Article 5” by Kristen Simmons. There are also several promising realistic fiction titles including “Something Like Normal” by Trish Doller and “Boy21” by Mathew Quick.
My personal favorite, so far, is David Levithan’s “Every Day.” He and John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” teamed up several years ago to write a fantastic book called “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” It’s not surprising to find both accomplished writers on this year’s Gateway nominee list.
“Don’t Turn Around” by Michelle Gagnon
After waking up on an operating table with no memory of how she got there, Noa must team up with computer hacker Peter to stop a corrupt corporation with a deadly secret.
“Starters” by Lissa Price
To support herself and her younger brother in a future Beverly Hills, 16-year-old Callie hires her body out to seniors who want to experience being young again, and she lives a fairy-tale life until she learns that her body will commit murder, unless her mind can stop it.
“Something Like Normal” by Trish Doller
When Travis returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he has nightmares of his best friend getting killed. However, when he runs into Harper, a girl who has despised him since middle school, life actually starts looking up.
“Of Poseidon” by Anna Banks
Galen, prince of the Syrena, is sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. He finds Emma and after several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, Galen becomes convinced Emma holds the key to his kingdom.
“Article 5” by Kristen Simmons
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings, the only boy Ember has ever loved.
“Croak” by Gina Damico
A delinquent 16-year-old girl is sent to live with her uncle for the summer, only to learn that he is a Grim Reaper who wants to teach her the family business.
“Burning Blue” by Paul Griffin
Beautiful, smart Nicole is disfigured when acid thrown is in her face. She befriends Jay, a young computer hacker, while visiting the school psychologist’s office, and Jay resolves to find her attacker.
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.
“Trafficked” by Kim Purcell
A 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.
“The Night She Disappeared” by April Henry
Told from various viewpoints, Gabie and Drew set out to prove that their missing co-worker Kayla is not dead. Meanwhile, the police search for her body and the man who abducted her.
“Every Day” by David Levithan
Every morning A wakes in a different person’s body, in a different person’s life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.
“Revived” by Cat Patrick
Having been brought back from the dead repeatedly by a top-secret super drug called Revive, 15-year-old Daisy meets people worth living for and begins to question the heavy-handed government controls she has dealt with for eleven years.
“Boy21” by Mathew Quick
Finley, an unnaturally quiet boy who is the only white player on his high school’s varsity basketball team, lives in a dismal Pennsylvania town that is ruled by the Irish mob. When his coach asks him to mentor a troubled African American student who has transferred there from an elite private school in California, he finds that they have a lot in common.
“Dark Eyes” by William Richter
Adopted from a Russian orphanage by a wealthy New York family then growing into a rebellious youth, 15-year-old Wally resolves to find her birth mother who stole a fortune from her murderous, dark-eyed father.
“Breaking Beautiful” by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Allie is overwhelmed when her boyfriend, Trip, dies in a car accident, leaving her scarred and unable to recall what happened that night, but she feels she must uncover the truth, even if it could hurt the people who tried to save her from Trip’s abuse.
Originally published at 2015 Gateway Award Nominees.
Graphic novels can be great to read if you don’t have a lot of time or if you don’t consider yourself much of a reader. With more images and fewer words than a regular novel, graphic novels make it easy to get drawn into the author’s world. Science fiction in particular is a great genre to read in graphic novel form because the images help bring the story to life, giving real depth to aliens, monsters and spaceships. I went through DBRL’s collection of science fiction graphic novels, which is pretty large, and picked out five popular and interesting series to tell you about.
Tune by Derek Kirk Kim
Lighthearted and funny, “Tune” is great read. This graphic novel is going to be more fiction and a little less science. It’s about an art college student named Andy who finds himself in desperate need of a job. The only offer Andy gets is to be an exhibit at an alien zoo. Not only is this graphic novel full of witty humor, but it is also drawn well, easy to read and hard to put down. Currently, there are only two books in the series, but with the way the second book ends, there is no doubt that more are going to come.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Chris Roberson
This series is the prequel story to Philip K Dick’s science fiction novel of the same name. If you enjoyed that read, then this graphic novel is definitely worth checking out. It follows two different story lines that slowly grow together and begin to intertwine. With an android trying to hunt down other runaway androids, an empath trying to control his power and a scientist trying to save the human race from dying out, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has it all.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
The series Saga starts by throwing us into a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance where a couple from two warring races are having a child together. What better way to start a graphic novel than that? With characters like a teenage ghost, a robot prince, a dad with magic and a mom with wings, it’s hard not to love Saga. Just beware, you won’t find the same lighthearted sense of humor here that is present in Tune. There are currently three volumes published in the Saga series.
Y, The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
When I found out that the series Saga and Y, The Last Man were written by the same author, I wasn’t too surprised. Y, The Last Man shares the same serious and slightly violent feeling that Saga does. In this graphic novel series, the plague doesn’t turn people into zombies; it kills off every living creature with a Y chromosome, minus, of course, one spunky escape artist, Yorick, and his male monkey, Ampersand. While Yorick, a secret agent, and a scientist try to find a way to save mankind, the trio gets caught up in a lot of scary situations. With 10 volumes in this series, it will keep you turning pages till the very end.
The Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman
The Manhattan Projects was my least favorite series of the five. The story was based around an alternative history involving scientists and aliens. It is well written, and the art style is original and different. It is set right after the fall of Hitler and Nazi Germany. A group of scientists have created a special lab, The Manhattan Projects, where they investigate portals to alternative worlds, nuclear bombs and computers that can think on their own. It is an interesting concept, but because it is based in real history, I had a hard time not questioning the plausibility of what was occurring. If you’re interested in scientists and history, though, then this is the science fiction graphic novel for you.
We recently added the “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” series to the DBRL collection. The 4 disc set is a collection of the episodes originally released earlier this year on TV. Here’s a synopsis from the National Geographic Channel:
Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, COSMOS will explore how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. It will bring to life never-before-told stories of the heroic quest for knowledge and transport viewers to new worlds and across the universe for a vision of the cosmos on the grandest scale. COSMOS will invent new modes of scientific storytelling to reveal the grandeur of the universe and re-invent celebrated elements of the legendary original series, including the Cosmic Calendar and the Ship of the Imagination. The most profound scientific concepts will be presented with stunning clarity, uniting skepticism and wonder, and weaving rigorous science with the emotional and spiritual into a transcendent experience.
Check out the official show website for more info.
Callie Harper lives in the Amish community of Shipshewana, Indiana and she owns the quilters shop left to her by her late aunt. Since she arrived in this little community she has made friends, English and Amish. She has also been accused of murder and found an unlikely ally on the police force. Now the unthinkable happens: someone murders her competitor in front of Callie’ s own shop. To make matters worse, her friend Melinda’s wheelchair-bound son is the only witness. Will the Amish community help in the investigation or will they protect the murderer?
I do not typically pick up Amish books but I do love a clean mystery. This book was great on both counts!
Three words that describe this book: Amish, mystery, Christian
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy clean, fun mysteries with a Christian slant to them.
Congratulations to Margie, a Fulton patron, for winning our seventh Adult Summer Reading prize drawing of the summer. She is the recipient of a $25 gift card from Well Read books.
Our final drawing of the summer will be this week, so keep your fingers crossed. You can still submit book reviews to increase your chances of winning.
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry was first published over 20 years ago. Since then, generations of middle school students have read this short, but powerful, novel. Sometimes it is requisite reading, and other times it is discovered after reading today’s dystopian bestsellers like “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent.”
The film adaptation of this Newbery award-winning book is set to release on August 15. To celebrate, the Columbia Public Library will be hosting a book discussion of “The Giver” with some fun related activities. Join us in the Children’s Program Room from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 5. Registration is required. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161. Ages 10 and older.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the remaining books in “The Giver” Quartet: “Gathering Blue,” “Messenger” and “Son.” Each book invites you to explore Jonas’ society through the eyes of different person, each with a special talent or history that sets them apart.
Originally published at Program Preview: “The Giver” Celebration.
That excellent rhyme is from the Beastie Boys’ song, “The Sounds of Science” off their classic album “Paul’s Boutique.” While not technically about science, the song does refer to Isaac Newton, Galileo, the theory of relativity and Ben Franklin’s famous kite experiment. The Beastie Boys are using science as a metaphor for their expansive skills and knowledge.
Science doesn’t just pop up in music for clever wordplay and braggadocio (although that is pretty awesome, right?). Many songs are inspired by science. In some that inspiration is implied, and in others it’s explicit. Scientists also have a fascination with music, on how and why it has an effect on us. Here are a few of the more interesting items in the library catalog where science and music intersect.
“Schoolhouse Rock: Science Rock”
This is a collection of science songs from the iconic TV show. It’s an ideal soundtrack for a certain generation longing nostalgically for the lost, lazy Saturdays of their youth. Or it could be the ideal soundtrack for that generation’s children to learn about electricity, gravity and the human body.
“Here Comes Science” by They Might be Giants
It’s probably no coincidence that Misters Flansburgh and Linell turned their talent for writing fact-based pop songs into educational children’s songs around the time they each became parents. They haven’t let that niche audience hamper their unique style in these songs. They are as enjoyable for the childless TMBG fans as for those cranking this CD in their minivan full of kids. And if you’ve been looking for inventor Nicolai Tesla’s impact on the world encapsulated in a pop song, then check out “Tesla” from their album “Nanobots.”
“This is Your Brain on Music” by Daniel J. Levitin
Daniel J. Levitin is a former session musician, sound engineer and record producer. He is now a neuroscientist who runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University. When the book jacket says this is “the first book to arrive at a comprehensive scientific understanding of how humans experience music,” you at least know the author has the bona fides to tackle such an ambitious subject. I’m not qualified to say how comprehensive the book is, but it is a fascinating and wide-ranging look at one of our great obsessions. Levitin begins with the fundamentals of what music is. He then expands out to questions like the evolutionary origins of music and why we like the music we do.
“Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks is probably best known for the movie “Awakenings,” which is based on his book of the same name. He writes that it was seeing the effects music had on the patients in “Awakenings” that prompted him to think and write about music. In “Musicophilia” he writes about the effect of music on several different patients. There are stories of musical seizures, musical hallucinations, musical dreams and a man who became obsessed with Chopin after being hit by lightning.
“The Marriage of True Minds” by Matmos
You might have to file this one under pseudoscience, but there’s no denying the band used the rigorous parameters of a science experiment in making these songs. Matmos re-enacted an experiment called the GANZFELD experiment, designed to create a scientifically verifiable way of investigating ESP. They isolated subjects in a room and used sensory deprivation techniques on the subjects. The subjects were instructed to clear their mind and try to receive any incoming psychic signals. Meanwhile, a band member sat in an adjacent room and tried to transmit “the concept of the new Matmos album” into the mind of the subject in the other room. They used the results of these experiments as source material, blueprints or restrictions in the creation of this new Matmos album.
“Science is Fiction: 23 Films” by Jean Painlevé
Jean Painlevé was a biologist and filmmaker who started filming undersea documentaries in the late 1920s. In order to do this, he encased his camera in a custom made waterproof box. Although he did not consider himself a Surrealist, the influence of that movement can be seen in both the style and the subject matter of his films. The result is something like Jacques Cousteau meets the oil projections that used to play behind Grace Slick as she sang about Alice in Wonderland. Naturally, some of these films needed a live score. In 2001 the band Yo La Tengo wrote a score for 8 of Panlievé’s short films and performed them live at the San Francisco Film Festival. This collection of films includes a live performance of the score from 2005, as well as an interview with the band. Caution: the music for “The Love Life of the Octopus” might melt your brain.
Need a thriller or a romping romance to take your mind off of the school year’s approach? How about losing yourself in an imagined world via Sci-fi or historical fiction? This month’s LibraryReads list has you covered. Here are the top 10 books being published in August that have librarians buzzing.
by Chelsea Cain
“Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at 21, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller.”
- Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
by Amy Bloom
“Is a family the people you are born to or the people who you find along the way? That’s what Bloom explores in this novel set in pre- and post-WWII Ohio, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. The story follows resourceful Eva, who was abandoned by her mother at an early age, and her sister Iris, an aspiring actress who tries to find love at a time when her kind of love must be secretive. Every character is beautifully drawn, warm and believable.”
- Kathryn Hassert, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, Chester Springs, PA
“Heroes Are My Weakness“
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
“Any Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel is going to make it onto my must-read list, but this one is particularly wonderful, and here’s why: she creates, then cheerfully destroys, the romance cliche of the brooding hero with a dark secret who lives in a crumbling mansion and captivates a plucky heroine. The hero is a horror novelist, and the heroine a failed actress-turned-puppeteer. This warm, witty, comedy-drama is a perfect summer read.”
- Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH
And here is the rest of the list with links to the catalog for your hold-placing pleasure!
- “Lock In” by John Scalzi
- “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton
- “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty
- “The Truth about Leo” by Katie MacAlister
- “An Unwilling Accomplice” by Charles Todd
- “The Magician’s Land” by Lev Grossman
- “The Story Hour” by Thrity Umrigar
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2014 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
“The Inheritor’s Powder” follows the case of the 1833 alleged murder of George Bodle, a wealthy man with a complicated will. Unfortunately, it first had to be proven that he was murdered before his murderer could be sentenced, and forensic science was in its infancy. Interspersing trial details with scientific developments, Sandra Hempel details both the progression of arsenic detection in the nineteenth century and the lives that meanwhile hung in the balance. Though captivating, you might want to take notes to keep track of all the names!
Three words that describe this book: fascinating, concerning, and ominous
You might want to pick this book up if: you like crime drama and forensic history.
June 28, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I (also known as the First World War). While dozens of military histories have been written about the Somme, Passchendaele and Verdun, great literature and social histories have also emerged about the war. These books try to answer some of the following questions. What remnants of civilized society did soldiers bring with them to these terrible and unearthly battlefields? What were their thoughts? What happened to the cohort of men who lived through combat (known after the war as the “Lost Generation”)? Where and how did European culture survive during and after the war? Look no further than your library for answers to some of these questions.
“Paris at the End of the World: The City of Light During the Great War” by John Baxter is a good starting point. Paris remained a cultural oasis and respite from the trenches for the thousands of soldiers who passed through the city during the war. “Few people could have felt more lost, more in need of a friendly word, a loving hand,” writes Baxter. Although the city was quickly pulled under by the currents of war, with many residents fleeing as the Germans advanced in September 1914, “Once the front stabilized, cafes, cabarets, shops, and brothels reopened to brisk business as soldiers were rotated home on leave and Paris swelled with the bureaucracy of war.” Indeed, even in the face of the privations and terror of those years, Pablo Picasso and Eric Satie staged avant-garde performances in several Paris theatres to large and enthusiastic audiences.
After the war ended, a diaspora of British veterans, many of them from the officer class, scattered across the face of the globe, vowing never to return to their homeland. Robert Grave’s “Goodbye to All That” is still the classic exemplar of a WWI memoir, with Grave’s time in the trenches as the centerpiece. Graves despised the British class system almost as much as the army, but the working class men who fought under his command loved him. What makes the book so remarkable today is its first-hand and unflinching examination of trench warfare, coupled with a sly humor. “Cuinchy bred rats. They came up from the canal, fed on the plentiful corpses, and multiplied exceedingly,” he writes of his first, pest-infested billet. Graves left for Majorca in 1929, after years of attempting to come to grips with life in post-war England and the terrible wounds and shell shock he suffered.
Soldiers on the front also wrote poetry. Several classic books of WWI poetry have been released over the years, but the most recent arrival is “The Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology.” Romanticism met head-on by the mechanized warfare of the early 20th century generated a vivid amalgamation of terrifying, moving verse. The works of Siegried Sassoon, Thomas Hardy and Wilfred Owen are included in this compilation. “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, / Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, / Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs / And towards our distant rest began to trudge,” go the first harrowing lines of “Dulce et Decorum Est,” written by Owen in 1917, shortly before his death.
Six years ago, near the end of her life, Doris Lessing gave us her very last book, “Alfred and Emily.” The first part of the book is fantasy, imagining what it would have been like if her father, Alfred, had never fought and the war had never existed. In reality, her father, maimed by shrapnel, was among the diaspora of veterans mentioned above, ending up in southern Africa where Lessing lived for a great part of her early life. Lessing says, “Even as a child I knew his obsessive talking about the Trenches was a way of ridding himself of the horrors. So I had the full force of the Trenches, tanks, star-shells, shrapnel, howitzers—the lot—through my childhood, and felt as if the black cloud he talked about was there, pressing down on me.”
Finally, we turn to Richard Rubin’s book “The Last of the Doughboys.” In a long push that started in 2003, Rubin interviewed dozens of American veterans between the ages of 101 and 113. The last WWI veteran, worldwide, passed away in 2012. Near the end of the book, Frank Buckles, the last American survivor and a native of Bethany, Missouri, is asked what had changed most in his lifetime, what events transpired that had had the most impact. Rubin writes: “He (Buckles) didn’t hesitate: ‘That little instrument you have there in your pocket,’ he said. My cell phone. I had forgotten to turn it off, and it had rung while we were talking.”
Only two weeks remain for you to complete your Teen Summer Reading Challenge! Stop by any of our three libraries or bookmobile stops with your completed punch card by Saturday, August 2 for a free book. Finishers’ names will also be entered into a drawing for a black & white Kindle eReader and other surprises! If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment, email us at email@example.com or call (573) 443-3161. It has been a pleasure for our staff to work with the over 300 teens who participated in this year’s program!
Originally published at Summer Reading Ends August 2.
“Under the Eagle” is a personal story of a quiet, dignified man. It is also a study of Navajo spiritual and cultural traditions and a US history lesson as well, with gripping first-person accounts of the battles for the Pacific Islands of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and others.
As a reader I was immediately drawn in by the unusual format. The introduction (something I don’t usually read but found invaluable in this case) explains that this book is a written oral history. What you read is Samuel Holiday’s story in his own words with no flowery narration to ease transitions or add extra details. Co-author Robert S. McPherson transcribed and edited many hours of recorded interviews with Mr. Holiday, so that what you read is what he said.
Mr. Holiday credits surviving the war to his strong faith in the Navajo way. As a result, each chapter begins with a Navajo legend important to a particular stage in Mr. Holiday’s life. The legend is followed by Mr. Holiday’s story. Finally, each chapter concludes with a “commentary,” an overview of world events surrounding the eyewitness accounts.
As I read the book, I was appalled (once again) by the way our country has treated minorities. But, I was also amazed and humbled by the way Mr. Holiday and his family adapted to the hardships they encountered. I was impressed how the Navajo spiritual and cultural traditions forged Mr. Holiday into a physically fit young man who was eager to defend his country – the very country who did not treat all of her citizens as equals.
Throughout the war and the many years of suffering in silence from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mr. Holiday maintained a quiet dignity. I would be honored to shake this man’s hand and thank him for sharing his story with the world. Books like this remind us that there are quiet heroes all around us. It also keeps us from forgetting the many who didn’t make it back.
Three words that describe this book: Heroic, Historic, Riveting
You might want to pick this book up if: you are interested in World War II history and native American mythology.
Jackie “Moms” Mabley was an African-American stand-up comic and showbiz pioneer who emerged from the Chitlin’ Circuit of African-American Vaudeville to become a mainstream star on the stage and TV. Mabley pushed the boundaries of comedy by tackling topics such as gender, sex, and racism, making her one of the first taboo-pushing comedians on the comedy circuit. Once billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World”, she performed up until her death in 1975. Whoopi Goldberg directs and appears.
Consecutively devouring ten books by the same author is not without its hazards. That such an undertaking insisted on itself proves it worthy, and surely being squarely in the grip of a master yarn-spinner is nothing to raise a fuss over. But might the immersion in such a distinct style cause a gentleman to subconsciously drift toward a foolish imitation unworthy of the inspiration? Might the constant brutality perpetrated by hill-folk not warp one’s perceptions until they find themselves cowering from anyone with a downhome drawl or countrified attire? Perhaps one would find themselves either desperately craving or spectacularly repulsed by squirrel meat.
Anyhow, at the risk of extending an unkindness to three, I’d venture that seven of Daniel Woodrell’s books are masterpieces. The three I’d omit from this designation make up “The Bayou Trilogy,” his first, third and fourth books. Focusing on the ex-boxer and current detective Rene Shade, these books are fun, fast reads and about as good of a character study as you’ll find filed in the crime section of a place that obsessively segregates their genres. They just don’t pack the wallop of his other works.
I’d judge his second book to pack a mighty punch. “Woe to Live On” is narrated by a Civil War rebel. Despite his allegiance and tendency to murder boys because “pups become hounds,” Woodrell, as great writers do, earns the reader’s empathy.
After completing “The Bayou Trilogy,” Woodrell began writing about the seedier, grislier aspects of his home, the Ozarks. “Give Us A Kiss: A Country Noir” is the blood and booze-soaked ride its subtitle implies. “Tomato Red” chronicles the hazards of vandalizing a golf course and a drifting, meth-dabbling lifestyle. “The Death of Sweet Mister” tells of a particularly troubled spell in a 12-year-old boy’s life, offers maybe my second favorite of Woodrell’s voices, and ends with a devastating sentence I’d like to talk about but for my aversion to goose-pimples. His most well-known book, “Winter’s Bone,” is such in large part because of the award-winning film adaptation. But I’d urge you to read it regardless of your familiarity with the movie. I reckon the dread conjured on its pages cannot be replicated by city-folk and their fancy lights and transparent plastics. “The Outlaw Album” is a collection of short, brutal stories.
His most recent book, the one with my favorite of his voices and the one that lead me down Woodrell’s backwater rabbit-hole, is “The Maid’s Version.” A fictionalized recounting of a real dance hall explosion in a small Missouri town, this novel attached me to characters in a matter of sentences before whisking them away and into pieces. If you’re the sort to deface books, there are sentences worthy of a highlighter. The perils of that act would be facing a dried-up highlighter and a thoroughly emphasized text.
Woodrell’s characters often behave downright ungentlemanly, what with the murder, spousal abuse, robberies and squirrel eating, but this grisliness is rendered in prose poetry so sharp you’ll have a gamy taste in your mouth, a hankering for mid-morning rum and a healthy suspicion of anyone from down Ozarks way. (I’ve read they’re apt to steal your prescriptions.)